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Kaká the cream of Europe's finest

Published: Friday 31 August 2007, 0.28CET
Kaká was named UEFA Club Footballer of the Year with team-mates Paolo Maldini and Clarence Seedorf also honoured along with Chelsea FC keeper Petr Čech.
by Kevin Ashby
from Monaco
 
Published: Friday 31 August 2007, 0.28CET

Kaká the cream of Europe's finest

Kaká was named UEFA Club Footballer of the Year with team-mates Paolo Maldini and Clarence Seedorf also honoured along with Chelsea FC keeper Petr Čech.

Having inspired AC Milan to UEFA Champions League glory last season, Kaká had further reason to celebrate today after collecting the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year prize. As part of the draw for the UEFA Champions League group stage, the Brazilian was joined on the podium in Monaco by club-mates Paolo Maldini and Clarence Seedorf while only the presence of Petr Čech prevented a Rossoneri clean sweep.

'Special place'
Kaká may not have struck in the final in Athens, Filippo Inzaghi scoring both in the 2-1 defeat of Liverpool FC, but his ten goals in 13 games enabled the 25-year-old to finish comfortably ahead of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Peter Crouch, Fernando Morientes and Didier Drogba, all of whom scored six. Speaking to uefa.com after the final, he said: "Winning trophies is what motivates me and I am looking forward to the next challenge. This UEFA Champions League, however, will always have a special place in my heart for the extra honour of ending up as the tournament's top scorer."

Brazil hat-trick
Kaká, who also won the Best Forward award, becomes the first Milan player to be named UEFA Club Footballer of the Year - an honour previously known as the Most Valuable Player award until the success of his countryman Ronaldinho last year. The triumph completes a hat-trick for Brazil, Ronaldo having earlier claimed the award in FC Internazionale Milano colours in 1998. While Kaká was Best Forward, the accolade of Best Midfielder went to Seedorf following the Dutchman's renaissance last term.

'Learning and improving'
After Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti elected to push Seedorf into a more advanced role alongside Kaká in January, the 31-year-old responded with a series of electric displays and goals in the defeats of FC Bayern München and Manchester United FC en route to a fourth personal UEFA Champions League success with three different clubs. Seedorf, who also earned a recall to the Netherlands squad after a two-year hiatus, said of his changing fortunes: "It's important to keep learning and improving, however long you've been around, and I'm enjoying my role a lot more now."

Maldini honour
Maldini was crowned Best Defender after his 22nd campaign as a Milan player ended with him lifting club football's most prestigious trophy for a fifth time. He may now be 39 and the oldest winner of such an award, but he promised more to come, saying: "We've been the best team in Italy, Europe and the world over the past 20 years. And the cycle hasn't ended yet." Čech, meanwhile, came top in the goalkeeping category for the second time in three years despite missing three months of the 2006/07 campaign after suffering a fractured skull. The Chelsea FC No1 recently kept his 100th league clean sheet and was named the the best player in the Czech Republic for the third successive year.

Best Goalkeeper
Year Player Club
2007 Petr Čech Chelsea FC
2006 Jens Lehmann Arsenal FC
2005 Petr Čech Chelsea FC
2004 Vítor Baía FC Porto
2003 Gianluigi Buffon Juventus
2002 Oliver Kahn FC Bayern München
2001 Oliver Kahn FC Bayern München
2000 Oliver Kahn FC Bayern München
1999 Oliver Kahn FC Bayern München
1998 Peter Schmeichel Manchester United FC

Best Defender
Year Player Club
2007 Paolo Maldini AC Milan
2006 Carles Puyol FC Barcelona
2005 John Terry Chelsea FC
2004 Ricardo Carvalho FC Porto
2003 Roberto Carlos Real Madrid CF
2002 Roberto Carlos Real Madrid CF
2001 Roberto Ayala Valencia CF
2000 Jaap Stam Manchester United FC
1999 Jaap Stam Manchester United FC
1998 Fernando Hierro Real Madrid CF

Best Midfielder
Year Player Club
2007 Clarence Seedorf AC Milan
2006 Deco FC Barcelona
2005 Kaká AC Milan
2004 Deco FC Porto
2003 Pavel Nedvěd Juventus
2002 Michael Ballack FC Bayern München
2001 Gaizka Mendieta Valencia CF
2000 Gaizka Mendieta Valencia CF
1999 David Beckham Manchester United FC
1998 Zinédine Zidane Juventus

Best Forward
Year Player Club
2007 Kaká AC Milan
2006 Samuel Eto'o FC Barcelona
2005 Ronaldinho FC Barcelona
2004 Fernando Morientes AS Monaco FC
2003 Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United FC
2002 Raúl González Real Madrid CF
2001 Raúl González Real Madrid CF
2000 Raúl González Real Madrid CF
1999 Andriy Shevchenko FC Dynamo Kyiv
1998 Ronaldo FC Internazionale Milano

UEFA Club Footballer of the Year
Year Player Club
2007 Kaká AC Milan
2006 Ronaldinho FC Barcelona
2005 Steven Gerrard Liverpool FC
2004 Deco FC Porto
2003 Gianluigi Buffon Juventus FC
2002 Zinédine Zidane Real Madrid CF
2001 Stefan Effenberg FC Bayern München
2000 Fernando Redondo Real Madrid CF
1999 David Beckham Manchester United FC
1998 Ronaldo FC Internazionale Milano

Last updated: 28/09/14 1.33CET

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